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Colleague Steve Nimmons has created a blog entry about integrity in social networking. It is on the Atos Origin Blog.
“…the more I am connected within the ‘graph of others’ the more likely that my recommendations and interests show up in the Social Search results of others…”.
He then argues that this process can be manipulated to a certain extend, but probably the algorithms of search engines will understand manipulation and prevent false connections.
His piece is an interesting read, but does not mention the fact that we are seeing a lot of “de-friend-ing” at the moment (check out the Web 2.0 Suicide Machine). I believe that building large personal networks is a fun game (“how many followers do you have?”) and was a trend in past years. It certainly is now mostly a phenomenon to build attention, distribute news very quickly and a personal hobby from celebrities and PR people.
For opinions and thought leadership, people are now looking for trust and relationship in quality, not in numbers. Something does not have more truth to it if more people say so. The introduction of Google Buzz shows that it is at least necessary to distinguish between different types of networks. Many people are already doing that by using LinkedIn for business and Facebook for private relationships.
I agree with Steve that complex Social Graphs do hold an element of danger for manipulation. You can build a false persona of get robbed of your (highly respected and influencing) personality. Owners and managers of social networks should be very aware of these dangers and put measures in place to protect their users.
Read Steve’s post here.